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The animals on the cover of Essential CVS, Second Edition, are bobacs (Marmota bobak). Also known as "steppe marmots" because of their wide distribution in the steppes (vast, grass-covered plains) of southern Russia and Kazakhstan, bobacs range as far west as central Europe. Though they are slightly larger than black-tailed prairie dogs, bobacs are otherwise quite similar to their North American counterparts.
Unlike most marmots, which live primarily in mountain environments, bobacs prefer to build their sprawling burrows in open, rolling grasslands or on the edges of cultivated fields. Bobacs are strictly diurnal and are most active during the cooler hours of the day. When they are outside of their burrows, it is common for a sentry to stand erect and alert on its hind legs, ready to bark an alert at the first sign of a predator or other danger. After running to their burrows, bobacs will then await an "all clear" call before returning to the surface. During the summer, bobacs eat enough lush vegetation to double their weight. The added fat reserve nourishes them throughout their winter hibernation.
Like other marmots, bobacs are very social animals that live in large groups, or "towns," which may range from a single acre to over 1,000 acres. Towns are subdivided further into "wards" and even smaller "coteries," which are usually made up of a single adult male, one to four adult females, and any number of offspring under two years old. Young bobacs, born in litters of about five or six, leave their natal coterie after their second hybernation. Because their coats can be used as imitation marten fur in hats, coats, and other apparel, bobacs are greatly threatened by fur hunting.
The cover image is a 19th-century engraving from the Dover Pictorial Archive. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed.